Congratulations to Joseph DeSantis, an 11th-grade ELA Teacher at Olney High School. No one is more deserving of this honor than Mr. DeSantis as he truly embodies what it means to be an advocate for our students. The cheers, applauses, and smiling faces were all a testament to the impact that he’s made on the 11th-grade students at Olney High School.
Mr. DeSantis is the only 11th-grade ELA teacher at Olney and therefore teaches the majority of the 11th-grade class. Every student always has something positive to say about him. They speak about how he patiently works with them in class. He teaches students with Individualized Learning Plans, students who are transitioning out of the English Language Learner Program, and general education students. He’s created an environment where all students are able to participate and grow together. For example, a student with an IEP is the senior editor of the school magazine. He makes sure that every one of his students is in an environment where they are able to learn, grow, and thrive, regardless of their learning curve. Another student who moved to the United States less than 3 years ago wrote his first story in Mr. DeSantis’s class and proudly asked to read it to another teacher. His confidence in learning, speaking, and writing in the English language has increased as a result of Mr. DeSantis’s teaching. He’s also expanded the school’s creative writing club and school magazine, recruiting more students to participate and share their writing by reading aloud in the club or publishing in the student magazine. He is great at encouraging students who are uncomfortable with writing to join the club and submit their stories and poems. Mr. DeSantis teaches Shakespeare’s Macbeth to students of varying levels, by having students read out different characters, listen to audio versions, and watch and compare different movie clips. He is able to take a play that students are excited about, and have difficulty understanding, and make it relatable and enjoyable for all students.
Mr. DeSantis is a treasure as he smiles and greets everyone in the halls: students he has taught, students he hasn’t taught, teachers, administrators, custodial staff, and visitors – everyone. He’s not only kind and pleasant but extremely helpful. He assists substitute teachers, visitors, and parents find their way around the building. He is always willing to help new teachers modify and scaffold their assignments to better support their students.
Olney High School and the entire School District of Philadelphia are honored to have such an amazing teacher in our midst. Congratulations again, Mr. Desantis.